In the Chubu region of Honshu sits Ishikawa, a historically important prefecture rich in history, culture and delicious food. Ishikawa is well-known for traditional craftsmanship such as lacquerware and gold leaf making, and the spirit of delicate craftsmanship reflects their rich food culture as well. In this article, we will introduce you to our top 5 favorite foods in Ishikawa!
Sushi is such a staple in Japanese cuisine that you can find it anywhere in the country, yet Ishikawa has made a name for itself as a must-visit for those craving high-quality sushi. The prefecture’s position next to the ocean provides plenty of fish and seafood, with an emphasis on seasonality. If you visit Ishikawa in the spring, you’ll find sushi made from flounder. If you visit in the summer, you’ll see abalone and squid on the menu. The reliance on seasonal produce ensures that the sushi in Ishikawa is of the highest quality possible at all times. Furthermore, many sushi restaurants in the area use locally sourced rice and vinegar, making the entire dish a celebration of Ishikawa’s delicious assets.
Kanazawa port and Hashidate port are both leading landing sites for crabs, making Ishikawa famous for an abundance of this delicious sea creature. Famous local crab varieties are the kano crab and kobako crab, known throughout Japan. Many Japanese tourists travel to Ishikawa in the winter for the chance to try some fresh crab. Often boiled or grilled before serving, Ishikawa’s crabs can also be eaten in various ways, such as in sushi, in a bowl, or by itself. If you’d like to test truly fresh crab, stop by Omicho market in Kanazawa during your trip to Ishikawa. There you’ll find both vendors selling fresh crab and numerous restaurants utilizing this local treasure to create mouth-watering dishes.
This traditional Ishikawa dish consists of battered duck, which is steamed before being added to a bonito and soy sauce-flavored hotpot. Local vegetables are added, making the dish versatile and full of vitamins and minerals. The deep flavor provided by the duck, broth and vegetables result in a filling and savory treat, perfect to enjoy during the cold winter months when ducks are extra fatty. Jibu-ni is popular among all people in Ishikawa, and can be enjoyed at high-end kaiseki (known in Ishikawa as kaga-ryori) restaurants as well as at home.
Fugu, or pufferfish in English, has gained a reputation world-wide as the poisonous fish popular in Japan. In Ishikawa, you’ll find fugu both cooked, for example in the form of tempura, and raw, as sushi or sashimi. One traditional way to prepare and enjoy pufferfish in Ishikawa is through fugu nukazuke, a dish made by fermenting the fish’s ovaries. The ovaries are first pickled in salt and then rice malt. This process removes the poison from the fish and takes about three years, resulting in a complex, salty flavor. Since pufferfish is poisonous, chefs need a license to be able to prepare fugu nukazuke.
Ruby Roman Grapes
If you’re visiting Ishikawa in the summer, get your hands on some Ruby Roman grapes, a favorite all over Japan. They are known for their sweet flavor, vibrant color and large size; one of the biggest varieties of grapes in Japan. It took 14 years of dedicated work for farmers in Ishikawa to produce the Ruby Roman, resulting in a high-end fruit with a price-tag to match. In 2016, one cluster of grapes were auctioned for a record bid of 1.1 million yen, proving that the Ruby Roman grapes are a treat worth splurging for.
We hope that this breakdown of our top 5 food picks in Ishikawa has left you inspired and hungry for a chance to visit this wonderful part of Japan.